How to do it?
When conducting observations, the following factors should deserve special attention from the observer (adapted from Merriam, 1988):
- The setting: What is the physical environment like? What is the context? What kind of behaviour does the setting promote or prevent?
- The participants: Describe who is in the scene, how many people, and their roles. What brings these people together? Who is allowed to here?
- Activities and interactions: What is going on? Is there a definable sequence of activities? How do people interact with the activity and with one another?
- Frequency and duration: When did the situation begin? How long does it last? Is it a recurring type of situation or is it unique? If it recurs, how frequently? How typical of such situations is the behaviour being observed?
- Subtle aspects:
Informal and unplanned activities.
Symbolic and connotative meanings of words.
Nonverbal communication and physical characteristics.
What does not happen and should or was expected to have happened.